Most serious bird hunters, like me, spend more than a little time thinking about bagging that trophy pheasant to mount above the mantel piece. But a great shot and beautiful bird doesn’t necessarily lead to the best trophy. For that, you need to take care of your from the moment you bring it down, until you get it in to your local taxidermist.

Here are some tips for hunters wanting to mount one of their pheasants:

– Inspect the bird to be sure it is suitable for mounting. Check wings, head, and body for areas missing feathers from either being shot or from a dog’s retrieve. Taxidermists are not magicians, the better condition the bird is in, the better the finished mount.

– Keep some plastic bread wrappers in your game bag. When you shoot a bird you want mounted, slip it in a plastic bread wrapper. This will keep it from getting roughed up in your game bag until you get back to your vehicle.

– On warm days, keep a cooler with ice at your vehicle. When you finish your hunt, put the bird in the cooler as soon as possible. Take care to keep the bird dry as well. Two things will promote bacteria growth and spoil your bird 1) Heat and 2) Moisture.
You may want to re-bag your bird with a larger trash bag before putting it in the cooler. Also, there is no need to dress “gut” your bird. Many taxidermists will not accept a bird if it has been dressed. Hunters need to make the decision of either eating the bird or mounting the bird, but not both.

When you get home, you will need to freeze the bird solid until you can get it to a taxidermist.
Tuck the head of the bird under one of its wings to protect it while in the freezer. Steve has seen many birds come in with the head broken off because something was set on top of it in the freezer. Also take care not to damage the tail. ALWAYS use plastic to wrap your birds, NEVER paper. Today’s freezers are frost free. You need a plastic barrier between your bird and the freezer to prevent freezer burn. Paper will actually act as a wick and suck the moisture out of your bird which promotes freezer burn. Birds with freezer burn are most times un-mountable. There is no need to use women’s stockings to keep the feathers straight.

The taxidermist most times will examine the bird and make suggestions on how best to mount the bird. A little care in the field can insure that the finished mount is one you can display and enjoy for years to come.

Good luck to you all in the field this fall in your own quest for that trophy!

Brad Heidel
Pheasants Forever

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